HEALTHY LIVING: The most simple way to save life

Cassie Symms, with son Zander
Cassie Symms, with son Zander
Share this article
Have your say

GIVING blood just takes a few minutes and is virtually painless – but 96 per cent of the population still do not do it.

In the lead up to the Olympics, with thousands of visitors and athletes due to arrive in the country, fresh blood is in short supply.

NHS Blood and Transplant around the UK is trying to boost blood stocks by 30 per cent – and people in South Yorkshire are being asked to do their bit.

Barnsley mum Sophie Smith well knows how important blood stocks are.

Every pint or unit of blood donated can save three adult lives or seven babies – and Sophie’s tiny daughter Cerys Paterson was one of them.

Born with a heart defect, Cerys underwent open heart surgery aged just three months. During the eight-hour procedure to save her life Cerys lost so much blood she needed a complete blood transfusion – and also received plasma and haemoglobin, which are also obtained from blood donors.

Sophie, 39, from Royston, also mum to 15-year-old Harry and two-year-old Mia, said: “Cerys is doing really well now – she is 10 months old and just smiles all the time, it is amazing how well she is.

“But she is living with only half a heart and will have at least two more operations.

“All that needs blood donations. It is so easy to give blood but it’s so important. It really is life saving.”

Cassie Symms, 29, from Dinnington, Rotherham, gives blood four times a year.

She started donating seven years ago when her late grandfather Roy Schofield underwent a heart bypass at the Northern General Hospital.

“I realised then how important giving blood was and signed up,” the mum-of-two said.

Cassie’s son Zander, who will turn two this month, also benefited from blood donations when he underwent surgery to fix a hole in his heart.

“Giving blood is an amazing thing to do,” said Cassie. “You don’t know what it will be used for, but it could save someone’s life. It’s amazing what doctors can do with it.”

Having a regular supply of blood is really important for the NHS, as red cells last only 35 days and platelets only seven days.

The call to arms is particularly important as the increased demands on stocks brought by visitors to the Olympics is expected to be compounded by low numbers of regular donors coming forward because of the disruption and distraction of the Games. All blood types are needed, but there is a particular requirement for O negative donors.

During last month’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations demand for type O negative blood was 69 per cent higher than the number of donations.

Gary Steel, blood transfusion manager at Rotherham Hospital, said: “We need regular blood supplies for patients with blood disorders such as leukaemia and lymphomas, as well as to supply people undergoing operations.”

He said the service was most in short supply of blood type O rhesus B negative – which can be given to any patient, regardless of their own blood type.

“That is the most useful blood type because we can use if for emergency trauma packs,” he said. “Of course, it’s not as common as we would like because only 15 per cent of the population has it.”

He added: “Giving blood is very simple – you just have to book an appointment and come in. I wouldn’t say it’s completely painless, but the people who take blood are very skilled at what they do.”

To sign up to donate visit or call 0300 1232323.


Sessions to attract donors

BLOOD donor sessions take place every day at venues across South Yorkshire. To find out your nearest session call 0300 123 23 23 to enter your postcode at

The Sheffield Donor Centre, Cathedral Court, Church Street, S1 2GN, runs blood donor sessions every Monday to Friday – call to make an appointment. These are just some of the other sessions taking place in South Yorkshire in the coming days:

July 19: Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster, DN4 5JW.11am-12.45, 2pm-4pm, 5pm-7.15pm.

July 22: Doncaster Healthy Living Centre DN2 6EW. 9.30am-12.30, 1.30pm -3.30pm.

July 23: Aston Hall Hotel, Aston, Rotherham S26 2EE. 12.15-3pm, 4.30pm-7.15pm.

July 25: The Venue, Stocksbridge, Sheffield S36 1DY. 12-2.30pm, 4pm-7.30.

July 26: Salvation Army Hall, Rawmarsh, Rotherham S62 7DB. 11am-12.45. 12-4pm, 5pm-7.15.

July 26: The Newton Hall, Chapeltown, Sheffield S35 1SY. 11am-12.45. 12-4pm, 5pm-7.15.

August 1: Adwick Leisure Centre, Woodlands, Doncaster DN6 7QF. 11am-1pm. 2.15-4pm, 5pm-7.15.

August 6: Sainsbury’s, Dronfield S18 1NW. 10am-1pm, 2.15-5pm.

August 7: Wingfield Business & Enterprise College, Rotherham, S61 4AU. 11am-12.15pm, 2-4pm, 5pm-7.15.


There are 18,000 active donors in the Sheffield area who donated just over 22000 units in the last 12 months;

Hospitals in Sheffield use 25,575 units of blood and 3,493 units of platelets each year;

A unit of blood is 470ml, or just under a pint;

A regular supply of blood is vital as red cells last only 35 days and platelets seven days;

Female whole blood donors can give blood every 16 weeks and males every 12 weeks;

There are four main blood groups – O, A, B and AB.